It may be severe stiffness when you wake up in the morning. Or radiating knee pain when you take the stairs. It may be locked up joints when you try to open a jar of pickles. Or hip pain that makes it impossible to keep up with your dog or grandkids. However it affects you, arthritis pain makes life difficult.
There is currently no cure for arthritis, but fortunately there are many effective treatments available to help you manage the disease. These include surgeries like hip or knee replacements, pain medications, and self-care routines like stretching and physical therapy. Whether you’ve tried any of these treatments and are still looking for more relief, or whether you’re looking for an all-natural, drug-free way to help manage your arthritis pain, chiropractic care may be an excellent option for you.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the body’s joints and cartilage. There are actually more than 100 specific kinds of arthritis. Arthritis typically grows worse with age, which is why it is known as a progressive disease.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in five adults 18 and older have arthritis in some form. It may not be surprising, then, to hear that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Oftentimes when people seek chiropractic care to treat arthritis pain, they are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Both conditions include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, but they have different causes.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body basically attacks its own joints, causing inflammation. It often begins in the hands and feet and spreads to other parts of the body. Along with severe pain in the affected areas, those with rheumatoid arthritis can feel constantly fatigued and experience stiff joints, especially in the morning or after being sedentary.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is caused when the cartilage between bones begins to wear out. This is often simply the result of age, but it can also be caused by injury or overuse of a joint. Osteoarthritis is quite painful and can cause swelling and disfiguration of the affected joints. In severe cases of the disease, the joint’s cartilage may become completely eroded, leaving the bones to rub against each other.
Natural Pain Relief for Arthritis
To be clear, chiropractic care cannot cure arthritis. However, chiropractic offers a natural, drug-free solution to manage arthritic pain, stiffness, and immobility.
Chiropractic has been proven to achieve several benefits for arthritis patients, including:
- Reduced pain, inflammation, and discomfort
- More flexibility and a wider range of motion
- A more active lifestyle
- Increased strength
Chiropractors are often able to recommend and demonstrate stretches and physical therapy exercises to help manage arthritic pain and increase mobility at home. In addition, when arthritic patients visit a chiropractor, they often are given dieting and lifestyle advice to help decrease inflammation and flare-ups.
Manage Your Arthritis Symptoms with Chiropractic
Chiropractors are widely known for adjusting the back, neck, and other parts of the body to achieve spinal alignment, which in turn supports pain relief and full body functioning.
In regards to arthritis, chiropractic adjustments can improve the natural function of joints by aligning the actual structure of the joint. In some cases this can actually slow the progression of the disease.
At the same time, chiropractic adjustments are not always safe or effective for patients with arthritis. There are many other techniques and approaches that chiropractors can perform to treat chronic pain and other issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
When Chiropractic Adjustments are Unsafe
The Arthritis Foundation concurs that chiropractic is one of the safest ways you can manage your arthritis pain, with some exceptions.
You should avoid chiropractic adjustments if you have any of the following symptoms or conditions:
- Active swelling or inflammation
- Fused spine
- Osteoporosis in the neck or spine
- Rheumatoid or other arthritis in the neck (cervical spine)
Those who have ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, or another inflammatory condition must also be very cautious when considering chiropractic adjustments due to the risk of swelling. If you have one of these conditions, it’s a good idea to consult with your primary care physician before seeing a chiropractor.
When Chiropractic Adjustments Are Safe
Manual adjustments are generally safe for cases of arthritis where no active swelling is involved and the arthritis is not in your neck. Never allow a swollen joint to be adjusted: this can further exacerbate swelling and cause more pain. However, having other parts of your body adjusted may bring about pain relief in the affected areas.
For example, let’s say you have arthritis in your wrists and they are painful and swollen. Your chiropractor may examine your spine and notice that your shoulders and hips are misaligned. A gentle spinal manipulation to ease your spine into correct alignment can actually reduce the pain and swelling in your wrists, since your body will be communicating with the nervous system more effectively and can function more smoothly overall.
Alternative Treatments for Arthritis Pain
If you are not medically cleared for (or are uncomfortable with) manual adjustments, your chiropractor may be able to perform these alternative therapies to achieve pain relief and improved mobility:
- Soft tissue massage. This technique relaxes the tissue surrounding a joint and can release some of the pressure and swelling.
- Ultrasound therapy. Effective for more than just imaging technology, ultrasound waves can have a massaging effect on joints and surrounding tissue, thereby reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- Electrotherapy. This treatment involves pain-free electric pulses that target nerves and muscles to achieve pain relief.
These options, along with stretching, physical therapy, pain medications, and lifestyle changes, can mitigate the pain and immobility associated with arthritis, allowing you to live each day more fully with fewer limitations. Don’t let arthritis pain continue to hold you down. Find a chiropractor and discuss potential therapies that can put you on the road to a more enjoyable life.
At All Star Chiropractic, our goal is to help our patients recover from back pain, neck pain, lack of mobility, joint issues, range of motion issues, and more—without the use of prescription drugs. We believe in taking a holistic “whole-body” approach to your health. We don’t want to just temporarily fix your pain—we want to determine and treat the root cause so you live an active and pain-free life.
Call one of our locations today to schedule an appointment, or to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you.